Looking Back: Ethan Picks the Best Official Movie Posters from 2012
by Ethan Anderton
December 17, 2012
It's time to start wrapping up 2012, and with several retrospective videos behind us, it's time to take a closer look at the movies from this year, more specifically the poster artwork used to hype them up. Kicking off FirstShowing's look back at 2012, I've made a list of my choices for what I believe to be the best movie posters of the year. While they're most easily described as just another form of marketing for a studio trying to get an audience into a theater, there are some movie posters that are as beautiful as works of art, and many should be considered as such. And so, here are my picks for the Best Movie Posters of 2012. Look!
Just so we're clear, I've only decided to consider posters that were officially released by a studio for a film hitting theaters within the year 2012. Therefore you won't find any posters for films from 2013, even if those posters were released this year (though you can bet this poster for The Wolverine will be on our list next year). They can be foreign posters, and may be a little bigger than your standard 27"x40" movie poster size, but you won't find any unofficial or fanmade posters here (or anything from Mondo for the most part).
#15. 21 Jump Street
This is the one poster I'm expecting to get lots of complaints, but let me explain. Aside from 21 Jump Street being one of my favorites of 2012, this poster is great. It puts Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill in the kind of picture we all got with our dates after attending prom, complete with white tuxedos, and you just can't beat that tagline.
#14. The Amazing Spider-Man
Most of the posters for The Amazing Spider-Man had this similar aesthetic, but what I like about this one is that we don't need to see Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man to get the gist. Plus, it employs the first-person shooting style that was utilized for some of the swinging sequences, though there should have been more to take full advantage of the 3D.
Using the iconic gun barrel frame that usually opens James Bond films, but taking away the color, was a simple move for this poster, but it's just a gorgeous print. It's also pretty great that Daniel Craig doesn't even need his name on this poster. He is 007.
#12. Case de Mi Padre
A throwback to Western posters, just like the parody film itself, this is actually a surprisingly beautiful piece of work. It's almost what Drew Struzan might produce if he worked back in the 50s. Pointing out that the film is in 2D and in color (in Spanish no less) is a nice though that makes this a surprisingly good entry to this year's posters.
#11. The American Scream
This is easily the most meticulous poster from 2012 with dozens of Halloween characters illustrated around the film's title, including the people who are chronicled in this documentary about homemade haunted houses. As a bonus, you can watch this film on Netflix Instant right now.
Another low key horror installment made the list for this simple but effective design of the universally foreboding image of a skull composed of hundreds of VHS tapes, a relic that many people under the age of 18 don't even remember now. Part of me wonders if this is a photo of real video tapes or if it was made in Photoshop. Either way, it's great.
#9. The Man with the Iron Fists
A whole slew of alternate posters for this kung fu film from RZA hit the web, but this one is the most beautiful. The slamming of fists, the splattering of blood into butterflies, and it's all illustrated. Bingo.
Another poster reminiscent of Drew Struzan, this French poster came after the release of Looper, but is actually the best piece of print marketing that we saw for the impressive sci-fi film. The inclusion of the time machine is my favorite part, but the composition itself is really striking.
In a bit of guerilla marketing, these posters never made it to theaters, but ended up slapped against walls out on the street for people to take at their leisure. Each of the posters were cool pieces of art for the underrated animated film, but this was my personal favorite.
#6. Moonrise Kingdom
Illustrated posters are harder and harder to come by in this age of Photoshop, but this Moonrise Kingdom poster really goes the extra mile. Though I wish the names were a little less prominent, the size of the two adolescent co-stars in relation to the world in front of them is a perfect representation of the coming-of-age tale that Wes Anderson presents in the film.
Another throwback makes the list with this midnight IMAX poster for Prometheus. Taking a cue from the original Alien poster the white border is a nice touch on an otherwise dark image that is full of mystery, just like the movie itself.
#4. Cabin in the Woods
Inspired by MC Esher's Relativity, this Cabin in the Woods poster is easily the best one used to promote this unique horror film. The art of Esher is an obvious choice to represent the puzzling nature of the film itself, but it's the execution that makes it a top pick. In addition to featuring each seemingly doomed character, my favorite touch is the force field wall towards the bottom of the art.
#3. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
This is about the closest we came to having a true Drew Struzan poster this year, and it wasn't even used in the United States, only in Japan. The position of all the characters, the prominence of Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins with the ring, and all the dwarves accounted for might have made for a busy piece of work, but I wish I could have a copy of this up one on my wall.
#2. The Dark Knight Rises
Seeing the broken cowl of Batman and the hulking Bane walking away in the shadows says all we need to know about this poster, and it was also a very striking image for those who didn't know what to expect from the end to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight legend. A stunning teaser poster for The Dark Knight Rises.
#1. The Master
All right, we cheated a bit here, but every single poster for Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master was a total triumph, but we chose to give both of these posters the top spot. They're each remarkably different, and sell the movie in different ways. The first paints a picture of a man (Joaquin Phoenix) learning from this titular master (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), but while drowned in liquor while the second one uses a Roarschach test aesthetic to represent a film that lets the audience decide what it's really about in the end.
Well those are my top choices for the best posters of 2012. Surely many of you have some different ideas and favorite posters, so feel free to sound off in the comments below. Thanks to our friends at IMPAwards for the inspiration and the images! As for finishing the year, stay tuned for a few more lists looking back at film in 2012 as the end of the year looms. Thoughts on the best posters of 2012? Did we miss any?